Research released earlier this year, conducted by the University of Illinois Department of Medicine, found cannabis to be a helpful treatment for sleep apnea, a condition in which an individual’s breathing slows down, or sometimes stops entirely during sleep and immediately after waking from sleep.
In summary, the research found that even minimal amounts of THC – one of the prime compounds of cannabis – greatly decreased the negative effects of sleep apnea, without any noticeable adverse effects.
Here’s the entire abstract from the study, which has been published by the National Institute of Health:
Study Objective: Animal data suggest that Δ(9)-TetraHydroCannabinol (Δ(9)THC) stabilizes autonomic output during sleep, reduces spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing, and blocks serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea. On this basis, we examined the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of dronabinol (Δ(9)THC), an exogenous Cannabinoid type 1 and type 2 (CB1 and CB2) receptor agonist in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Design and Setting: Proof of concept; single-center dose-escalation study of dronabinol. Participants: Seventeen adults with a baseline Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) ≥15/h. Baseline polysomnography (PSG) was performed after a 7-day washout of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment. Intervention: Dronabinol was administered after baseline PSG, starting at 2.5 mg once daily. The dose was increased weekly, as tolerated, to 5 mg and finally to 10 mg once daily. Measurements and Results: Repeat PSG assessments were performed on nights 7, 14, and 21 of dronabinol treatment. Change in AHI (ΔAHI, mean ± SD) was significant from baseline to night 21 (-14.1 ± 17.5; p = 0.007). No degradation of sleep architecture or serious adverse events was noted. Conclusion: Dronabinol treatment is safe and well-tolerated in OSA patients at doses of 2.5-10 mg daily and significantly reduces AHI in the short-term. These findings should be confirmed in a larger study in order to identify sub-populations with OSA that may benefit from cannabimimetic pharmacologic therapy.